Do you have an interest in gourmet food? Do you care about nature? Of course you do! Which is why the whitebark pine deserves your attention. This tree is found at windswept treeline locations in the Rockies (that's the nature part), and at this time of the year, it produces cones full of high fat pine nuts (that's the gourmet part). They are not the same species of pine nut that we eat, but Clark's nutcrackers, red squirrels and even grizzly bears love them, and as a result, stands of this little known tree are biodiversity hotspots.
Unfortunately, whitebark pines are in trouble, having been hit hard by both mountain pine beetle and a non-native fungus called white pine blister rust. In the US, the species has met all the criteria for being listed as an endangered species, but because the Fish and Wildlife service is so strapped for cash, they have refrained from putting the tree on the endangered species list.
So why not support both nature and the gourmet feeding habits of our local wildlife? Shell Canada has a grant program for environmental projects across the country and is currently running an online voting campaign to decide which grants they'll fund. There are lots of proposals in the running, but only the top vote-getters will receive money, so to cast your ballots for one of North America's most amazing trees, go to:
The site requires you to submit an e-mail address and a very limited amount of info, but if you jump through their hoops, you earn ten votes that you can apply to a good cause.